Motegi MotoGP: Bridgestone baffled by Honda tyre claim

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Bridgestone bosses have said they are shocked and surprised at a statement by HRC president Masumi Hamane today at the Japanese GP that negotiations are still on-going about a tyre deal for 2008.

Bridgestone boss Hiroshi Yamada confirmed HRC submitted a formal request to try and clinch a tyre contract for Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden next season immediately after the American GP in Laguna Seca at the end of July.

Yamada said that request was rejected before the Misano MotoGP race earlier this month, with Honda seeking a tyre deal after management came under intense pressure to dump Michelin at the end of the season.

Yamada said: “I was very surprised to hear the statement from Mr Hamane. We received an approach from Honda at the end of July, but this was rejected, so I am not sure why they have made this statement. We will continue with our existing teams."

Masumi Hamane caused a major shock this afternoon when speaking at a press conference to unveil Dani Pedrosa signing a new two-year deal with Honda’s official factory team.

He confirmed that the request to Bridgestone had been made following pressure from both Dani Pedrosa and reigning world champion Nicky Hayden.

The American denied he had specifically requested Bridgestone tyres but Hamane said: “We haven’t finalised about the tyres yet. We want to follow Dani’s choice. And Dani Pedrosa wants Bridgestone.

"But on the other hand we’re pushing very hard for Michelin to improve the tyres. But we haven’t reached a final conclusion yet.

"Both riders want to use Bridgestone next year and the way of thinking of HRC is to follow the riders choice, so if both the riders wants to use Bridgestone, we push Bridgestone and this is the Honda way of thinking.”

Yamaha has already said they they will remain with Michelin in 2008, despite Michelin’s poor performance.

"Dani Pedrosa has been arguably Michelin’s biggest critic in 2007 and Hamane’s revelation about negotiations with Bridgestone confirmed speculation that the Spaniard has been exerting intense pressure on Honda management to switch tyre brands.

On his new Honda contract Dani Pedrosa said: “I am very happy to have signed with Honda for another two years.

"Both Honda and I considered that it was good to continue our relationship after so many successful years together. We want to stay together to achieve the targets we had set ourselves before.

"Although this year things have not turned out to be quite as we wanted, Honda and I have the spirit to come back next year with renewed motivation and to be stronger than ever.

"So I would like to thank Honda for the confidence it has placed in me and I trust Honda will know how to give me all I need to be up front.

"I will do my very best to achieve our goals.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt